Most of my travels take me to wild, woodsy, or wide-open spaces. But in between those major destinations I like to sprinkle my road trips with random and often lesser known sights. It’s especially important to have plenty of options to get out and stretch your legs often when you’re spending the whole day in the car getting to the next destination. Back in June, the second day of our road trip had us starting in Minnesota and ending in Badlands National Park towards the western side of South Dakota. We had quite a few stops this day before arriving at our final destination, and the Corn Palace was one of them.
Established in 1892, it was created as a place where city and rural residents could gather in celebrating the growing season and harvest. The current, and third, building was completed in 1921, and provides a space for more than just these elaborate decorations, like proms and graduations as well as basketball.
But the decorations are what drew me in. That, and the memory of it being a stopping point when my family took vacations out west many moons ago.
From their website:
“The Palace is redecorated each year with naturally colored corn and other grains and native grasses to make it “the agricultural show-place of the world”. We currently use 12 different colors or shades of corn to decorate the Corn Palace: red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and now we have green corn! A different theme is chosen each year, and murals are designed to reflect that theme. Ear by ear the corn is nailed to the Corn Palace to create a scene. The decorating process usually starts in late May with the removal of the rye and dock. The corn murals are stripped at the end of August and the new ones are completed by the first of October. Just like South Dakota Agriculture, growing condition can affect production of our decorating materials and may delay the decorating process.”
I’d love to make the time to go back and document the entire process of this, straight from the fields to the completion of the murals. To talk to the locals about this thing that their town does that no other town does. This thing that I’m sure gives the people in the community who are involved each year, a sense of accomplishment and connects them to each other, as well as to the half a million tourists, like me, who make it a point to check this out during their travels. If your own travels take you through South Dakota, this is a great place to stretch your legs. If you’re into souvenirs, there is no small supply of them here. Corny? Maybe. But pretty cool and creative in my opinion.